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Brief Published: 20 Feb 2020

Hornbach Partners with Ai Weiwei to Democratise Art

German DIY chain Hornbach collaborated with contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to assemble a readymade sculpture anyone can recreate using items from Hornbach's product range.

Safety Jackets Zipped the Other Way – which references Five Raincoats Holding Up a Star, a previous work of Ai's from the late 80s – consists of several high-visibility jackets connected together via their zippers and propped up by either a set of wall hooks or metal scaffolding and zip ties.

This project follows on from Hornbach's ongoing Werkstück campaign (see The Market for Mindful Design), where international furniture designers develop elaborate instructions for Hornbach customers to build their own designer furniture reproductions, with all work material available at Hornbach outlets.

In our 2020 Pop Culture Primer, we highlighted how the democratisation of creative tools is changing the way consumers see the world and present themselves to it. While this development in social content responds to commercial art, brand comms and visual publishing, Ai's work for Hornbach similarly questions the high-brow end of the artistic spectrum. "I made this work for the public, for the people who are not necessarily art collectors or museum-goers," said Ai of the project. "For those who have a sense of humour and understand that meaning can be created by anybody at any moment."

For more case studies of brands that empower their customers' creativity and make their contributions a part of the brand journey, check out The New Consumer-Creators.